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13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?

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Counter In commentary and quotations, computer dumps and cartoons, 13TH GEN is a multimedia anthem to the American post-boomer generation,our country's thirteenth generation since the founding fathers.

240 pages, Paperback

First published March 23, 1993

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Neil Howe

24 books38 followers

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5 stars
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190 (32%)
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162 (27%)
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54 (9%)
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23 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews
Profile Image for Mandy.
74 reviews11 followers
September 12, 2011
This week’s headline? Boomers analyze GenX

Why this book? more nineties nostalgia

Which book format? used old textbook

Primary reading environment? beside swimming hole

Any preconceived notions? wannabe definitive text

Identify most with? um…my parents?

Three-word quote? “mortgaged your future”

Goes well with? celery with ranch

Hate to break it to you, Boomers, but self-actualization does not arrive in your twenties during an acid trip.

There’s a lot more going on in this book, but I’m focusing on the Boomers because I think the authors were “way harsh” on their own generation, and that, more than anything, makes me feel connected to something bigger than myself.

I made the mistake of watching Taking Woodstock last week. I’m still not impressed with the hippie on horseback, and I’m sort of upset with that entire generation for the selfish way they behaved.

You weren’t immediately released from samsara upon enlightenment. Bummer. What’s even worse is that you went from hippie to yuppie, becoming more and more of an asshole with each justification.

Finding yourself so early in life leaves you with many more years on this planet — ample time to sell out.

Like religion or true love, complete consciousness should be a lifelong pursuit, an ongoing struggle between the forces of good and evil, not a public demonstration against "the man," who, in reality, deserves peace and love too.

I need to admit that I’m still confused and angry about the sway boomers hold over the collegiate experience. My collegiate experience in particular.

It wasn’t even so much the Dylan quotes and liberal slurs that came from the professors. It was the way they heaped rewards upon members of the younger generation who bought wholesale into their philosophy.

I think a lot of my mistrust has to do with boomers’ identities being intertwined with their self-righteous activism. World peace and universal love would negate their very existence.

Apparently, it is very GenX of me to wonder why — if the sixties were so enlightening and the peace movement conquered all — we are in the middle of two fucking wars.

Other cultural accompaniments: Reality Bites (1993), Clueless (1995), Taking Woodstock (2009)

Grade: B+/A-

I leave you with this: “But what many called ‘apathy’ might also have been described as the weary realism of a generation whose own first-hand experiences have taught them what can happen when barriers are blithely broken down: chaos, confusion, a new mess for somebody to clean up.”
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
364 reviews2 followers
January 7, 2009
Howe and Strauss covered the 13th Generation--and the other 13 American generations--briefly in their first book, Generations. Here they go into great (and often grim) detail about what we now call Generation X. The writing is livelier than Generations, fortunately. The sidebars are interesting, although distracting.

In some respects, yes, the book is showing its age. Thirteeners are now hitting midlife instead of young adulthood, and the book's chatroom format is likely to bring on a wave of nostalgia in its own right. On the other hand, reading this book this many years later lets you see how well the authors' predictions for the future have been playing out. Prediction #5 ("Reaching midlife, the 13ers' economic fears will be confirmed. They will become the only generation born this century (the first since the Gilded) to suffer a one-generation backstep in living standards") has added oomph to it as I write this in the recession of 2008...
Profile Image for Jim.
201 reviews1 follower
September 18, 2012
This is one of my favorite books for understanding Generation X, people like me born between 1965 - 1983. We are divided into two subgroups - Atari and Nintendo.

If you ever wonder why you can't get one of us on a committee this is the book to read.

This is the book that helps the boomers understand why we are not like them. Of course, the book is full of commentary, pictures, irreverent responses which will irritate the average didactic boomer to no end. Oh well.

Profile Image for Brian.
47 reviews1 follower
September 5, 2022
It would have been very hard for the authors to predict two significant things that hadn't happened at the time of publication that would significantly and indelibly affect my generation: the rise of the internet and the information age revolution, and 9/11.

These are two significant cultural shifts and markers these authors couldn't have seen coming (except for maybe the internet) that I think historians will look at 50 years from now as very significant.

It was very hard to read a book about my generation that came out in the early 90's, written in a style of the 80's, nearly 20 years after the fact. Some things were right on, other things were a little pessimistic and not accurate.

Interesting read for historical perspective, but not much else for me!
Profile Image for Beth.
443 reviews9 followers
October 19, 2011
Spoke to me back in 1993 when I picked it up on a whim and a recent New Yorker Article and Blog post have brought this book back to my attention. Sure it is dated in its format, but think about when it was being researched and written. Yes it is written by 'gasp' boomers they are, much to their credit, strong demographic researchers discussing trends and generational types. We, like the Lost Generation, our Great Grandparents (1883 - 1900), are lost in the abyss and frankly can't understand why everyone else needs so much attention paid to their generation!
Profile Image for Derek Ellsworth.
32 reviews3 followers
July 22, 2008
Considering it was written by a couple of Boomers, this is a hilarious and VERY insightful look into my generation, and done very on. What's interesting is all the things predicted that have come true!
26 reviews
September 20, 2011
This finally explains the lie our generation was fed to manipulate us into permanent failure. A lie that was invented to create a no win situation for us in a system that was failing beyond repair.

We are such a cynical generation lacking trust because we were told we weren't good enough to fix and improve upon the current social ills and government failings. We began to find our lives within the ever widening cracks of the system, even to take advantage of those failings as the only opportunity to advance. When we discovered that the current hierarchy wasn't set in stone, that in fact it was crumbling and that to repair it required reinventing several large portions of it we were locked out of the establishment through poor education, limited funding, false support, through a hidden double standard. Since the current establishment saw this as treason to discover this and bring it to light, we were permanently relegated to the last open positions on the career ladder which were mainly service jobs (waiters) and sales.

What was our answer? How were we going to get it done?
Strip things down and simplify. And maybe, just maybe, what do we get is to be a part of something amazingly special after all. Finally fulfill the completely impossible instructions of our elders, find our own path, develop our own sense of mission, by writing our own well developed script. We cleaned up everybody else’s mess. Showing others how you can still enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without letting the world fly to pieces, without bankrupting the world’s banks, and without squandering scarce natural resources. Our own youthful entrepreneurship, our midlife investments, and our elder generosity.

Others will call us underachievers. That’s ok, we can take it, we did the dirty work. We’ll look history straight in the eye, give a little smile, and move on

slogans that strike home from the book:

Are we being tested on this? then stop bothering me while I listen to Metallica.

Trusting ourselves, and money - PERIOD!

The choices are ugly and few.

Having been born at the height of this generation (1961-1981) I'm looking forward to learning more about myself.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Casie Blevins.
382 reviews5 followers
August 21, 2018
Filled with bunkum and real insight, drowning in 80's and early 90's pop culture, at turns humorous and downright insulting, Howe's book filled two weeks of my evenings with eye rolls, snorts, uhuhs and general amusement. Written by two Boomers who at times portrayed themselves as unapologeticly the superior generation, and at other times took a scathing look in the mirror themselves, I enjoyed their historical perspective of my generation (the 13th), theirs and my parent's Boomer Generation, my aunts' Silent generation and my grandparent's GI generation. I learned a tremendous amount about historical political policy and much of my own childhood and that of my parent's childhood made more sense as a result. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Jane.
884 reviews9 followers
June 22, 2017
First read this book when it came out in the early nineties. This was before Generation X was known as Generation X and just after Douglas Coupland's novel "Generation X" came out. The book is a little dated (as 13th Gens were at the time 30 and under and now we're late 30s to 50s!), however there some truths in it about our generation. Overall an interesting cultural study.
112 reviews2 followers
January 27, 2023
I found and read this a long, long time ago, when it was knew. Loved it then. Realized I’m anonymously quoted in it (the authors interviewed kids at my high school — who are quoted by name — and then also include something I remember saying in the hallway outside the room they were interviewed in, as they broke for lunch…). Got to meet one of the authors while researching entitlement policy maybe a year later. That wound up pointing me in directions that built on each other and eventually culminated in where I live (and how). So, yeah, the book definitely influenced me.

I go back to it now and then. I still think the generational lines are more accurately drawn here by these authors than by any of their rivals. We 13ers/Gen Xers really do span ‘61-‘80. Definitions starting later exclude the folks that coined the term Gen-X to describe themselves as not fitting into the Boomer mold. And they didn’t and don’t. We could play the same game at the other end, too…

But enough of that.

Yes, any book on generations definitionally over-generalizes. But generalizations tend to be rooted in facts and here they really are. And the prophetic angle of the book, extrapolating what would come? Not half bad there, either…
54 reviews2 followers
August 14, 2016
I absolutely, positively hate this book. It has absolutely no redeeming qualities.

This book has all the flaws of their previous book (cherry picking data to support a completely bullshit theory), and adds a heavy dose of smugness and condescension. Note to the authors: the plural of "anecdote" is not "data". To call this book superficial is unfair, because they never do enough work or go into enough depth to even reach the level of superficial. According to these idiots, lower average SAT scores are because the kids are obviously stupider (completely ignoring that, instead of just the elite taking the SAT as in the past, a larger proportion of students take the test), and higher incarceration rates are because the generation is obviously more evil (and has nothing to do with the criminalization of behaviors that were either misdemeanors or jot punished at all in the past). Add in a strong undertone of #alllivesmatter entitlement/stupidity, and the wonderful strawmen/sock puppets supposedly representing the view of the generation, and the whole thing is a fucking disaster. Fuck these two idiots, and fuck their stupid bullshit theory.
Profile Image for Ronald Wise.
826 reviews24 followers
July 31, 2011
This one contained some interesting comparisons between American generations. But reading it fifteen years after it was written had my mental timeline all messed up. Trying to remember the Gen-X (their 13th Gen) young people I was meeting back then, and also trying to remember what it was all about just prior to widespread Internet and Web knowledge or availability! I do recall in those days a definite sense among the new adults that they would never have it as good as their parents, but as it turns out, that appears to have just been the beginning or a long-term, multi-generational trend. I kept wondering how much of Barack Obama's support was coming from this generation. I learned of this book from an appearance by author Bill Strauss on a show about Generational Differences on KUOW's Weekday (08/02/2007).
Profile Image for Melissa Smith.
27 reviews
February 19, 2008
Really insightful, unique look at Generation X, and some of the foundational issues to our current social trends and social problems. I highly recommend it!
4 reviews2 followers
July 9, 2008
That my generation is doomed to cynical mediocrity.
Profile Image for Kim .
283 reviews12 followers
February 10, 2010
This book came recommended as a good one for the use of data and statistics as applied to generational demographics; what I found was a bunch of interprative psychobabble.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
113 reviews3 followers
January 25, 2014
A sound theory on how the Boomers "Great Society" policies has turned the nation into a dump.
Profile Image for Dave Peticolas.
1,376 reviews39 followers
October 8, 2014

Howe and Strauss chronicle America's cynical, pragmatic thirteenth generation. My generation, that is.

Profile Image for Rhode PVD.
2,329 reviews23 followers
January 7, 2015
Awfully fun, our little generation has been crushed on both ends by generations bigger and more famous than we are. So nice to get a smidgen of recognition.
Profile Image for Phil.
359 reviews
June 18, 2015
Insightful book about the idiosyncrasies of Generation X.
Profile Image for Erika Mulvenna.
511 reviews20 followers
March 15, 2016
Very entertaining yet incredibly factual, and still relevant 20+ years after being published. Highly recommended to anyone born 1961 - 1981.
Profile Image for Sarah Jowett.
579 reviews2 followers
October 16, 2017
i read this when it first came out and loved it. i recently thought about it, thank you ebay! as a gen x-er, i would love to see an updated version about how were doing now ha
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews

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